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'Come back and face justice'

Australia has asked India-born Dr Jayant Patel, accused of medical incompetence, to return voluntarily from the US.

india Updated: Jun 15, 2007 14:03 IST

Queensland Prime Minister Peter Beattie has asked disgraced India-born surgeon Jayant Patel, who has been accused of gross medical incompetence in Australia, to return voluntarily from the US to face justice.

Beattie said Thursday that extradition proceedings were continuing, although they were complex and he could not say when or if Patel would return.

Patel found himself at the centre of a medical scandal in 2005 when he was accused of gross incompetence while working as director of surgery at Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland. He has been linked to at least 17 deaths and dozens of injuries. He fled to the US after the allegations were raised against him.

"If Jayant Patel is really serious about defending himself, then what he should do is get on an aeroplane and come home," Beattie said.

"If he wants to avoid extradition, if he wants to face up to what happened in Bundaberg, then here's the chance to do it," he added.

Meanwhile, Patel has been telling neighbours in the US that charges against him in Australia have been dropped. An Australian television channel showed grainy footage of Patel talking at the door of his Seattle mansion.

The network said Patel told neighbours that Australia was not proceeding with moves to extradite him, news.com.au reported.

He said the charges of manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and fraud against him had been dropped.

A Queensland patient support group has been putting pressure on the state government for the past year to extradite Patel to Australia to face manslaughter charges.